Michio Kaku valiantly tilts Don Quixote’s lance at a generalist listener’s confusion by writing “Parallel Worlds”.
This is a book about Physics, the baffling science of mathematics, and those who wish to understand why Newton, Einstein, Bohr, Planck, Michael Green, and Ed Schwarz et al are important to all of us who are equally confused.
In spite of the abstruse subject, Kaku does reveal some understandable break through discoveries in cosmology, the study of the universe, and mankind’s pursuit of the Holy Grail, a unified field theory that explains everything there is to know about matter and the universe.
The God question inevitably raises its head in sciences’ pursuit of a unified field theory. However, putting that philosophical discussion aside, Kaku tells the story of Einstein’s unsuccessful pursuit of a unified field theory.
Einstein refuted some of Newton’s laws. Bohr refuted some of Einstein’s speculation. (Video about Niels Bohr/Einstein Conflict: http://youtu.be/8bDB4Wfp7PM). Bohr introduces quantum theory to Einstein’s discovery of the interchangeability of energy and mass.
Their research leads to discoveries that only a science fiction writer could conceive. Smaller and smaller pieces of matter and energy are discovered by scientists only to find that 75% of the components of the universe are unknown. Dark matter and dark energy make up that 75% with science pursuing its origin and component make-up with space telescopes like Hubble and the Hadron collider in Europe.
Another giant step in theoretical physics is Michael Green’s and Ed Schwarz’s string theory postulation. Their theory provides a more inclusive categorization (a step toward a unified field theory) of the basic elements of the universe. (String theory video: http://youtu.be/_B0Kaf7xYMk) Kaku describes string theory in terms of a stringed instrument that changes the character of matter by shortening or lengthening strings. When the strings are plucked they resonate at different frequencies; that change in vibration changes the elemental nature of the particle even though the string is fundamentally the same.
String theory, if it proves correct, opens many doors to this world and possibly parallel worlds. Kaku overwhelms a listener with explanations of the potential of a scientifically verifiable unified field theory. He suggests the possibility of time travel and space exploration through black holes and white holes.
“Parallel Worlds” summarizes its exploration of physics with notes of caution and optimism about our world’s progress. The book is only semi-understandable (possibly, horribly misleading) to the ill informed but it is worth a listen.